Recipe: Salted Shortbread Toffee

Necessity is the mother of invention, indeed! With the sudden realization that I had nothing to bring to a New Year's day party, I scoured the cupboards and flipped through the recipes I had enjoyed during my December candymaking spree to see if the stars would align.  Well, close enough -- I was just a bag of pretzels shy of being able to make pretzel toffee.  A box of shortbread cookies came to the rescue, making this simple and delicious confection a new family favorite!

Salted Shortbread Toffee

Nonstick Cooking Spray
4 sticks (1 pound) salted butter, cut in to 1" pieces
2 cups granulated sugar
8 ounces shortbread cookies, broken in to bite sized pieces
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
1 Tablespoon fine flake salt (Maldon, Fleur de Sel, Sel Gris)

Half Sheet Baking Pan (13x18x1)
Aluminum Foil
Wooden Spoon or Silicone spatula
Candy Thermometer 
Small offset spatula or silicone spatula

Step 1:  Prepare a baking pan (13x18x1) by lining with foil, then lightly coating with nonstick spray. Spread crumbled shortbread evenly in the pan.

Step 2:  In a heavy metal saucepan (4-5 quarts) over medium-high heat,  melt the sliced butter and sugar, whisking until smooth.  Clip candy thermometer to the inside of the pot, making sure the the bottom of the thermometer is immersed in the candy. Bring mixture to a low boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden or silicone spoon for about 10 minutes. Stir constantly (to prevent burning) as the thermometer gets closer to the target of 300 degrees F (about another five minutes).

Step 3:  When candy reaches 300 degrees F (Hard Crack Stage), remove thermometer, and immediately pour the candy evenly over the crumbled shortbread.  Use a small offset spatula or a silicone spatula to spread and even out the hot candy. Set aside for 5 minutes to set.

Step 4:  Sprinkle the chocolate chips in an even layer over the toffee. Set aside for 5 minutes, to soften the chocolate.  With an offset spatula or silicone spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the toffee. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Step 5:  Lightly sprinkle the chocolate with salt.

Step 6: Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes (or refrigerator for 30).  Once toffee and chocolate have been chilled and set, remove from pan and peel back the foil.  Use a large chef's knife to break the toffee into pieces.

Step 7:  The toffee is ready to eat.  To store (yeah right!), layer pieces between sheets of waxed paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Place the tray of toffee in the freezer and freeze until the chocolate layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and break toffee into pieces. Layer between sheets of parchment or waxed paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature; the toffee will keep for about two weeks.

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